What to do when your passion is MIA

There’s a lot of career talk these days about “doing what you’re passionate about.”

Follow your passion 

But what if you’re drawing a blank?

When you don’t know what you’re passionate about you can feel:

  • Foolish and inadequate (like you missed the memo from God)
  • Off-track in your career and wasting your talents
  • Emotionally starved for meaning and fulfillment
  • Angry because you don’t know what else to do!

Why you want to know what yours is:

There’s plenty of research to prove that the most satisfying careers are those that honor a person’s authentic self.  When your work is in harmony with who and how you are (that is, it suits your unique talents + personality + passions) you’re more likely to experience ‘being in the zone.’ 

And, when you’re working ‘in the zone’ you’re pulled along by the gravitational forces of your vision like water running downhill – instead of just being driven by money, obligation, and fear which feels like an uphill battle.  

Essentially, when you’re doing work that lights you up – success comes more easily!  You’re naturally more creative, resilient, and courageous.  Who doesn’t want that?


But there are two prickly problems with finding your passion:

Problem No. 1: The Language Can Freak Us Out.

For some, labels like “passion” or “purpose” can feel too much like feminine woo-woo’ery.  While others take issue with the religious notion that a divine figure has bestowed upon us a “path” or “calling” that we must follow and that, if we haven’t figured it out by now, we’re somehow inadequate.

To help, I suggest thinking in terms of “meaning,” rather than using the more emotionally charged labels of purpose, passion or calling. 

So, what’s meaningful to you?  I think you’ll agree that’s a much easier to question to answer! 


Problem No. 2: It Takes Close Self-Examination (which we tend to avoid).

Bad news: There isn’t a test you can take that will spit out the answer to what you’re passionate about. (Sorry)

Good news: Your life has always been offering you up clues! All you have to do is follow the breadcrumb trail…

To spot the clues, look for moments in your life that carry certain emotional signatures. 

What I mean is that you need to isolate moments in your life where you experienced:

  • Intense emotions (pleasant or unpleasant),
  • High energy or enthusiasm,
  • An enduring or insatiable interest
  • A sense of fulfillment or unexplained confidence

Something about those moments holds a clue for you about what you’re passionate about.  So line them up, look for the commonalities between them, and discover what life’s been trying to tell you all along!

I’ll bet you’re a whole lot closer to ‘the zone’ than you think!


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